Prices of cassava stems have nosedived to N400 per bundle from N1200 as demand eases in Nigeria. The prices of cassava roots and its derivatives such as gari had climbed to an all-time high as demand outstripped supply.

Cassava is an important crop in Nigeria and the roots are processed to starch, ethanol, flour and gari—a staple. In 2014, about 7 million hectares was planted with cassava, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Most of the varieties planted to cover this hectarage were from the informal sector, says Dr Peter Kulakow, Cassava Breeder with IITA who is also working on the cassava seed systems project. The Nigerian cassava seed system is not well structured, an arrangement that the project—Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Seed System for Cassava (BASICS) is trying to correct.l

Farmers usually obtain planting materials from previous field, cut them in lengths of about a meter and tie them into bundles comprising 50 stems each and sell.

Certification from regulators is still rare but the Nigerian Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) is working with BASICS to set standards and begin the certification of cassava planting materials. ( contact: g.atser@cgiar.org)